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Subject: Property/Community Manager Experiences?
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NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 8:19 AM  
Hello all. I'm 10 minutes new to this site and bring no shortage of issues. First up, what has all of your experiences been like with your community/property managers?

I've recently assumed the role of Board President and am trying to figure out what a "good" Community Manager looks like? The person assigned to our community for the past 5 years responds to most emails and phone calls, but doesn't offer up any suggestions or proactive info on how to accomplish what she clearly knows we are trying to do. She says she visits the community at least once a month, but the other board members do not believe her and neither do I. No one has ever seen her on site, and this is a very small community. She is slightly evasive when we inquire about the legality of actions we need to take to address CCR violations. We feel like we are an afterthought and she does the bare minimum to adhere to the terms of the service contract. The other Board members feel she is not active enough or hands on with our HOA and doesn't provide any of the professional advice or insight that the "10 years" she's claimed to have worked in this field should have provided her. She conducts herself as more of a slightly reluctant executive assistant than a business partner helping us manage the community.

Is this normal? We are seriously considering ending her contract when it is up for renewal in January. She provides little to no value outside of administrative task performance.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/15/2021 8:40 AM  
We have an offsite property manager is very good. However, I don't think of our PM as a property manager when I ask her to do things, because she can't do a lot of property management remotely. Rather, I think of her as a secretary and think of what tasks an offsite secretary can do. She does the following things for us:

1) Post notices to the property management portal
2) Obtain insurance, licensing, bonding paperwork from vendors
3) Issue checks to vendors
4) Provides limited advice on how to run our association and ideas for running meetings
5) Provide all accounting services
6) Come on site to look for compliance issues several times per year
7) Communicates with homeowners

She does not do the following:

1) Provide legal advice
2) Do any sort of project management
3) Meet vendors on site
4) Come to meetings on site (unless we pay an additional fee)
5) Sign contracts with vendors
6) Make decisions (she requires the Board to make decisions), such as when to levy fines, whether to send a compliance letter based on a homeowner complaint, etc.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 8:48 AM  
Can you tell me more about your community? Do you have an active Board? How about homeowner participation and compliance with the CCRs?

As stated, I am trying to form fair comparisons.
AugustinD


Posts:1905


11/15/2021 8:49 AM  
NinaC2, some managers are wary of offering anything that might represent 'legal advice.' Probably rightly so. I am aware of at least one manager who got busted for taking money for giving legal advice, one way or another, while not being an attorney.

If a person accepts money in exchange for legal advice, then the person is violating laws on practicing law without a license. Managers offering opinions on legal matters need to tread softly.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 9:03 AM  
Let me give an example...

There is a homeowner who brazenly violates parking rules. He parks wherever he wants, however he wants. We've sent the required notices to him. No compliance. We are now prepared to tow, as he has begun violating other homeowners rights. I reached out to the community manager to advise that we wanted the car towed in 24 hrs. Our CCRs clearly state that unauthorized vehicles parked in other owners spaces can be towed. The community manager says, sure, you can tow. I instruct her to send a final warning notice out. The next day I read the letter she sent, and it mentions nothing about the imminent towing risk, and also that the owner is entitled to a hearing after a certain number of days before fines or towing. Now, remember, I called her up to inquire as to whether we could tow within 24 hours. She had said YES. But the official letter she sent to the actual homeowner says he has a certain amount of time (it amounted to like 8 days!) before that can take place.

FYI, Our CCRs also state towing can occur, without specified time limits.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/15/2021 9:24 AM  
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 9:03 AM
Let me give an example...

There is a homeowner who brazenly violates parking rules. He parks wherever he wants, however he wants. We've sent the required notices to him. No compliance. We are now prepared to tow, as he has begun violating other homeowners rights. I reached out to the community manager to advise that we wanted the car towed in 24 hrs. Our CCRs clearly state that unauthorized vehicles parked in other owners spaces can be towed. The community manager says, sure, you can tow. I instruct her to send a final warning notice out. The next day I read the letter she sent, and it mentions nothing about the imminent towing risk, and also that the owner is entitled to a hearing after a certain number of days before fines or towing. Now, remember, I called her up to inquire as to whether we could tow within 24 hours. She had said YES. But the official letter she sent to the actual homeowner says he has a certain amount of time (it amounted to like 8 days!) before that can take place.

FYI, Our CCRs also state towing can occur, without specified time limits.




Likely, the compliance letter that was sent is compliant with your legal requirements in your state, hence the note about being able to have a hearing.

Likely, the property manager is following the legally required processes in order for her actions to be enforceable should the issue go to court, and thus, are not as fast or quick or bold as you would like. However, your association only has power when you make decisions that are enforceable by the courts. So it is a good thing she is following the law.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 9:29 AM  
I totally get that.

Surely you see the problem in her verbally advising that we can tow within 24 hrs, then send out a written notice that says 8 days?

Had we towed the vehicle, and the owner received this notice thereafter, they would have grounds to come after us for improper toweing. She gave us incorrect info on the phone, but made sure she followed due process on paper. This is a problem.
PatJ1
(North Carolina)

Posts:290


11/15/2021 9:39 AM  
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 9:29 AM
I totally get that.

Surely you see the problem in her verbally advising that we can tow within 24 hrs, then send out a written notice that says 8 days?

Had we towed the vehicle, and the owner received this notice thereafter, they would have grounds to come after us for improper toweing. She gave us incorrect info on the phone, but made sure she followed due process on paper. This is a problem.




Are your parking rules clearly defined in your Rules & Regulations? Follow those and share them with her.

Board members are volunteers. Many have no idea what they're doing. Educate them. Don't beat them up.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/15/2021 9:45 AM  
I think I understand:

1) She verbally said you can tow.

2) You didn't ask her to tow or call the tow company yourself, but rather instructed her to send a letter

3) The letter contained legally required hearing language which you are now frustrated about.

Do I have that right?
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 10:12 AM  
Conversation went like this...

Board: Hi, Tenant X is still parked there and refuses to move his car. We (the board) want to tow the car tomorrow morning if it is still there. Do we have the right to tow tomorrow morning?

PM: Sure. The Board or the person legally authorized to park there can have the vehicle towed tomorrow morning.

Board: Ok. Can you send out a final imminent towing warning today?

PM: Yes. I will also send the notice via email so it is immediately delivered to email address of record.




HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/15/2021 10:30 AM  
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 10:12 AM
Conversation went like this...

Board: Hi, Tenant X is still parked there and refuses to move his car. We (the board) want to tow the car tomorrow morning if it is still there. Do we have the right to tow tomorrow morning?

PM: Sure. The Board or the person legally authorized to park there can have the vehicle towed tomorrow morning.

Board: Ok. Can you send out a final imminent towing warning today?

PM: Yes. I will also send the notice via email so it is immediately delivered to email address of record.








Yes, that is what I said in my previous post. You could have called the tow company yourself and had the vehicle towed. The property management company won't do that for you.

But instead you asked her to sent a letter, which includes language allowing for a hearing per state law.

I think the PM was in the right and did everything by the book.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/15/2021 10:42 AM  
Posted By HenryS6 on 11/15/2021 10:30 AM
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 10:12 AM
Conversation went like this...

Board: Hi, Tenant X is still parked there and refuses to move his car. We (the board) want to tow the car tomorrow morning if it is still there. Do we have the right to tow tomorrow morning?

PM: Sure. The Board or the person legally authorized to park there can have the vehicle towed tomorrow morning.

Board: Ok. Can you send out a final imminent towing warning today?

PM: Yes. I will also send the notice via email so it is immediately delivered to email address of record.








Yes, that is what I said in my previous post. You could have called the tow company yourself and had the vehicle towed. The property management company won't do that for you.

But instead you asked her to sent a letter, which includes language allowing for a hearing per state law.

I think the PM was in the right and did everything by the book.




I agree.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/15/2021 11:15 AM  
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 8:19 AM
Hello all. I'm 10 minutes new to this site and bring no shortage of issues. First up, what has all of your experiences been like with your community/property managers?

I've recently assumed the role of Board President and am trying to figure out what a "good" Community Manager looks like? The person assigned to our community for the past 5 years responds to most emails and phone calls, but doesn't offer up any suggestions or proactive info on how to accomplish what she clearly knows we are trying to do. She says she visits the community at least once a month, but the other board members do not believe her and neither do I. No one has ever seen her on site, and this is a very small community. She is slightly evasive when we inquire about the legality of actions we need to take to address CCR violations. We feel like we are an afterthought and she does the bare minimum to adhere to the terms of the service contract. The other Board members feel she is not active enough or hands on with our HOA and doesn't provide any of the professional advice or insight that the "10 years" she's claimed to have worked in this field should have provided her. She conducts herself as more of a slightly reluctant executive assistant than a business partner helping us manage the community.

Is this normal? We are seriously considering ending her contract when it is up for renewal in January. She provides little to no value outside of administrative task performance.



It sounds like you may be expecting the PM to do things that are not her responsibility.

It's not her place to provide legal advice or to interpret the CC&Rs for you - that's the board's job (with advise from the HOA attorney as needed). There is a clear distinction between a PM's functions and what the board does. IF the PM tells the board what to do, she's out of her lane. If the board is telling the PM how to do her job, they're likely micromanaging.

In addition, PMs can provide a range of services, and not all communities want or need the same things. If yours is unsure about what she should be doing, it's the board's fault for not communicating their expectations. And these expectations should be spelled out in her contract. If you want her to do a community walk-thru once per month, it should be in the contract. To be fair, I rarely saw our PM in my small community, and I work from home - but I know she was here because she had an up-to-date list of things that needed attention.

That said, some PMs are better than others, and it makes sense to know what's available in your area. We found our best PM company through word of mouth from people in other communities. Any community is free to change PMs if they want, for any reason, and lack of trust is as good a reason as any.
BarbaraT1
(Texas)

Posts:588


11/15/2021 12:30 PM  
"Does the bare minimum to adhere to the contract" = adheres to the contract. Why are you expecting more service that the vendor is contractually obligated to provide?

It's an odd quirk of consumers, to expect more than what they are paying for. Don't just give me my Big Mac and fries, SMILE at me dammit! Act grateful to be given the opportunity to serve!

You are getting what you are paying for, which is a portfolio level of service. Responding to requests, completing tasks that are assigned. If you are unhappy with the way she does those things, or want her to do more things, talk to her. The internet doesn't know what's going on in her life or her brain, she does. Ask her.

Realistically, if you want a proactive manager who has the time to spend contemplating what would be good for your property in the future vs what is on fire right now, or who has time to think up creative solutions to a vague desire expressed by the board, then you need to pay someone for that time. That can mean paying a higher management fee in exchange for a manager who has only a few properties instead of a dozen, or even hiring a manager exclusively for your property.

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/15/2021 12:31 PM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 11/15/2021 11:15 AM
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 8:19 AM
Hello all. I'm 10 minutes new to this site and bring no shortage of issues. First up, what has all of your experiences been like with your community/property managers?

I've recently assumed the role of Board President and am trying to figure out what a "good" Community Manager looks like? The person assigned to our community for the past 5 years responds to most emails and phone calls, but doesn't offer up any suggestions or proactive info on how to accomplish what she clearly knows we are trying to do. She says she visits the community at least once a month, but the other board members do not believe her and neither do I. No one has ever seen her on site, and this is a very small community. She is slightly evasive when we inquire about the legality of actions we need to take to address CCR violations. We feel like we are an afterthought and she does the bare minimum to adhere to the terms of the service contract. The other Board members feel she is not active enough or hands on with our HOA and doesn't provide any of the professional advice or insight that the "10 years" she's claimed to have worked in this field should have provided her. She conducts herself as more of a slightly reluctant executive assistant than a business partner helping us manage the community.

Is this normal? We are seriously considering ending her contract when it is up for renewal in January. She provides little to no value outside of administrative task performance.



It sounds like you may be expecting the PM to do things that are not her responsibility.

It's not her place to provide legal advice or to interpret the CC&Rs for you - that's the board's job (with advise from the HOA attorney as needed). There is a clear distinction between a PM's functions and what the board does. IF the PM tells the board what to do, she's out of her lane. If the board is telling the PM how to do her job, they're likely micromanaging.

In addition, PMs can provide a range of services, and not all communities want or need the same things. If yours is unsure about what she should be doing, it's the board's fault for not communicating their expectations. And these expectations should be spelled out in her contract. If you want her to do a community walk-thru once per month, it should be in the contract. To be fair, I rarely saw our PM in my small community, and I work from home - but I know she was here because she had an up-to-date list of things that needed attention.

That said, some PMs are better than others, and it makes sense to know what's available in your area. We found our best PM company through word of mouth from people in other communities. Any community is free to change PMs if they want, for any reason, and lack of trust is as good a reason as any.



Well said.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/15/2021 2:07 PM  
I know more replies are forthcoming and look forward to gathering as many perspectives on this as becomes available here. In the meantime though, I will address the generous replies thus far:

-Again, my question was what does a "good" community manager look like? I do not have enough access to directors of other HOAs to form a fair opinion, so reached out here. That being said, the title "Community Manager" suggests proactive concern, considerate suggestions, and insight offered based on their experience doing this on a daily basis, with other associations. That is what I believe a professional manager, regardless of industry, does.
-Reading the replies so far, perhaps my expectations were too lofty.
-I read our entire service agreement as soon as I assumed this role -ironically- so as to set proper expectations of her. As a business person who has held various management roles in the past, she strikes me much more as an assistant. Perhaps the solution is simply changing their titles.
-You might be surprised to find that I have defended her in the past against other Board members complaints, always referring them back to our service agreement. Yet, I do feel like I have to pull teeth to get basic information out of her at times, not matter how precise I am.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback thus far. Will await more material to chew on.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10584


11/16/2021 4:27 AM  
Here is what I would do. Let it be known the HOA has an established "3 bid rule" on EVERY job/contract. That means that she now must bid on the job along with others. Refreshing the contract every year frees up a lot of issues amongst many contractors. Bad landscaping, PM, or other HOA contractors....

So if she decides to bid on the job, it will no doubt bring about better communication. It will draw out details to the contract no one may be seeing. Plus gives the oportunity to let her go in a professional manner while giving oportunity to move on.


Former HOA President
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/16/2021 6:46 AM  
A "good" community manager has the same qualities that any good employee does:

* They understand the requirements of the job.
* They have the skills to perform the job.
* They understand the scope and limits of their authority.
* They work independently when appropriate, without someone standing over them and telling them what to do, but collaborate with others when needed - and know which to do when.
* They are accountable for their work product.
* They are able to deal effectively with others, some of whom will be difficult.

A community manager's job can run the gamut from simple bookkeeping all the way up through full service management. Here's a list of what our full service manager can do:

* Maintaining or supervising the maintenance of the physical property, including dealing with after hours emergencies.
* Handling the financial affairs of the community, including the collection of association fees from homeowners, and the payment of expenses, such as insurance, payroll, and invoices from service contractors.
* Managing disputes, including violations of community rules/CC&Rs and dealing with late assessments/collections.
* Obtaining bids for work to be performed by contractors, including accountants, insurers, and the like.
* Handling paperwork associated with sales of homes, including estoppel letters and welcome packets. Maintaining copies of leases for those homes that are rented.
* Completing paperwork for things such as FHA recertification, corporate status renewals, and reserve studies.
* Preparing the paperwork for board and annual meetings, including notices, agendas, and board packets. Scheduling meeting space and conducting the meetings if needed.

Every community is different and has different needs. What works in one community may not in others.

In every HOA, the buck stops with the board. The board is ultimately responsible for what happens on their watch, including the actions of the community manager. If the manager is not performing well, then it's up to the board to address this.
HenryS6
(Arizona)

Posts:111


11/16/2021 7:19 AM  
Posted By CathyA3 on 11/16/2021 6:46 AM

* Maintaining or supervising the maintenance of the physical property, including dealing with after hours emergencies.
* Handling the financial affairs of the community, including the collection of association fees from homeowners, and the payment of expenses, such as insurance, payroll, and invoices from service contractors.
* Managing disputes, including violations of community rules/CC&Rs and dealing with late assessments/collections.
* Obtaining bids for work to be performed by contractors, including accountants, insurers, and the like.
* Handling paperwork associated with sales of homes, including estoppel letters and welcome packets. Maintaining copies of leases for those homes that are rented.
* Completing paperwork for things such as FHA recertification, corporate status renewals, and reserve studies.
* Preparing the paperwork for board and annual meetings, including notices, agendas, and board packets. Scheduling meeting space and conducting the meetings if needed.





I agree with this list except for the first one from my experience. We have an offsite manager, so she cannot maintain or supervise the maintenance of the physical property or effectively deal with after hours emergencies for our single family homeowners association. It's absolutely a responsibility of the BoD in our community to supervise all vendor performance.

Technically, I could try to set them up with an emergency call list so they could deal with after hours emergencies, but they happen so infrequently it's easier to deal with it myself.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/16/2021 8:30 AM  
Actually ours is off site as well, so this affects which contractors we select and how the PM manages them. One former PM had a rule of thumb: if I have to babysit you, you don't work for me.

I suspect that off site managers are pretty common: many HOAs/COAs don't have the facilities or the budget to host an on site manager. Thinking back to the communities developed by my employer, I can think of only two or three communities that were large enough to justify having someone on site.

But you brought up a good point. Expectations for an off site PM who is not an employee of the HOA would be different.
CathyA3
(Ohio)

Posts:2588


11/16/2021 8:46 AM  
Forgot to mention: our PM uses an after hours answering service to handle emergencies. Anyone who calls in can expect a response in 5-10 minutes. We're a condo community, and some problems just won't wait because of the potential for damage to multiple units.

This particular company was founded by a local resident who was fed up with the level of service provided by other area PMs. The company provides top notch service, the PMs employed by the company work hard and are paid well, and the company is grabbing market share big time. They have a waiting list of communities wanting to hire them because they won't take on more work than they can handle while maintaining the quality of the service. I can't say enough good things about them, and clearly many boards are willing to pay for quality.
FloridaC1
(Florida)

Posts:26


11/21/2021 5:12 AM  
Posted By NinaC2 on 11/15/2021 8:19 AM
Hello all. I'm 10 minutes new to this site and bring no shortage of issues. First up, what has all of your experiences been like with your community/property managers?

I've recently assumed the role of Board President and am trying to figure out what a "good" Community Manager looks like? The person assigned to our community for the past 5 years responds to most emails and phone calls, but doesn't offer up any suggestions or proactive info on how to accomplish what she clearly knows we are trying to do. She says she visits the community at least once a month, but the other board members do not believe her and neither do I. No one has ever seen her on site, and this is a very small community. She is slightly evasive when we inquire about the legality of actions we need to take to address CCR violations. We feel like we are an afterthought and she does the bare minimum to adhere to the terms of the service contract. The other Board members feel she is not active enough or hands on with our HOA and doesn't provide any of the professional advice or insight that the "10 years" she's claimed to have worked in this field should have provided her. She conducts herself as more of a slightly reluctant executive assistant than a business partner helping us manage the community.

Is this normal? We are seriously considering ending her contract when it is up for renewal in January. She provides little to no value outside of administrative task performance.




A good Community Manager follows the scope of the contract; you want to terminate someone for following a contract? Wow. Read & understand the management contract. She can not provide legal advice. Following the contract is not the bare minimum; sounds like your Board wants special treatment. Ten years of experience and still being in this field is outstanding; most managers have an 18 month life span before they get burned out from needy Boards and communities. As a portfolio manager with many years of experience, the most neediest & cheapest communities expect the most.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:300


11/21/2021 6:35 AM  
Please take a moment to read the Property Management company website to see if they have any information as to what a good property manager duties are? Second of all, please read the contract that you have with the company. The contract may have a section on what the duties of a good property manager are. Once our Board found that information, we have at each Board meeting what the site manager has done during their trips.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


11/21/2021 9:58 AM  
When interviewing MC's, the one we hired presented a list of services and asked us to pick and choose which we wanted and he would price accordingly. As an example. He had $200 monthly charge for on site inspections. We chose not to use this service.
I think many posters expect cradle to grave service from their MC and/or their HOA. You get what you pay for.
SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


11/22/2021 9:31 AM  
Can’t argue with most of what’s said so far. It appears you want your property manager to do the Board’s thinking, which isn’t her role. As Board members, it’s YOUR job to oversee the property manager and direct the overall course of the association. Fair and consistent rules enforcement is part of that – the property manager can make suggestions, but in the end, do your job and figure out the best way to deal with it. If you don't know how, try checking out the CAI website, which has educational materials for board members on a number of issues like reserves and rules enforcement at a reasonable price. Continuing education is always a good idea no matter how long you serve on the board.

Ditto for the legal advice – if you don’t have an association attorney, get one. And read your documents to see if the answer to your question has already been addressed (it’s faster and a helluva lot cheaper). You may notice there isn’t a precise answer to your question, which is where your common sense should kick in. Sometimes people are afraid to use their brains although they have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done.

If you want ideas on how to improve things in your community, may I suggest you start with the people who live in it? What’s wrong with doing an annual survey to see what people like and don’t like about the Board, the property manager, current vendors, etc.? Not everyone will respond, but hopefully, enough will so you’ll see a pattern. From there, the board can set priorities on what should be addressed and then you could brainstorm with the property manager to see what could happen from her end (e.g. improving the response time for emails or setting up online request forms on the association’s website, if you have one). Keep in mind there may be some things you want done that will cost more money and if that’s the case, the contract may have to be adjusted and that will also require the assessments to be adjusted. Keep your homeowners in the loop so they understand if they want certain things done, they have to be willing to pay for it or do it themselves.
NinaC2
(North Carolina)

Posts:15


11/23/2021 4:57 PM  
Thank you all very much for your replies!
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